It’s National Blood Donor Month! According to the CDC, approximately 14.6 million blood transfusions occur every year. Blood helps our bodies fight infection and keeps us healthy. So where does all the transfused blood come from? The FDA is responsible for regulating how blood is collected through donations. Just one pint of donated blood helps three people in need. If you are considering donating blood, check out these reasons why you should and some commonly asked questions.

Why should I donate blood?

  • You are helping save lives: According to the Mayo Clinic, millions of people need blood transfusions each year. Donating blood once can help up to 3 or 4 people that are in need. Usually, blood is donated and used during surgery, but it may also be used after accidents or for those who have a blood disease that can be fixed by blood transfusion.
  • You get your overall health checked out: Because blood donation requires good health, you’ll be given a mini-physical to ensure the blood you donate is healthy and can be used. Typically, before donation someone will check your pulse, blood pressure, body temperature, and hemoglobin. While this should not replace your regular doctor visits, it is a great way to get a check-up.
  • Donating blood may help reduce harmful storage of iron: Some people are affected by hemochromatosis, a disease that causes too much iron in the blood. Donating blood is a great way to make sure you have a healthy amount of iron in your body. A lower iron percentage is also linked to reduce the risk of cancers.
  • Donating blood burns calories: While exercising may be a better route for burning calories, donating blood will also help you burn off a few of your daily calories. Blood can safely be donated two or three time per month and may burn up to 650 calories each time.

Commonly asked questions about donating blood:

How long does it take? According to the Mayo Clinic, donating blood typically takes approximately 45-60 minutes.

What should I do before I donate? Eat a good meal and drink plenty of fluids before you donate blood. There are some restrictions when it comes to donating blood. Hopeful donors who have recently gotten a tattoo, piercing, or gotten any vaccinations should speak with staff before giving blood. Traveling to certain countries, as well as weight and personal health, may also limit your ability to give blood. If you want to donate, first speak with your doctor or any staff at the center where you choose to give blood.

Where can I donate blood? For help finding a blood donation center near you, please visit the Red Cross website.

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